Last week was very stressful for me. More than once out of mental exhaustion I thought ‘why not just give up’. It’s not like that active, energetic drive when an urge hits you. More like a calm fatal feeling you get, that uncomfortably seems to make sense to you in that situation.
Thanks to the habitual mechanisms I set up (porn and app block, studying at public places most of the day, day structuring and many more) I didn’t come close to giving in to this feeling, thank god!
I’m feeling really good now once the exams are over. This phase was indeed a crucial test. The tricky thing is not getting too confident afterwards though. Reading all these posts in the forum sometimes makes me think that many people relapse inbetween day 90 and 120 because they grinded through with this goal 90 days in mind and once there they’re like ‘I completed the reboot, now what?’.
When I had leisure time in the past weeks I tried working on my personal mission statement. It’s a term from the book ‘Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People’ (a self-improvement classic and recommendable imo). Basically you write a vision for what you want your life to be and then you try to live up to it everyday. Easy right?
I’ve tried writing a pms more than a couple of times in the last decade (even when still in school) and I always failed miserably. Why? I just want to much! I have this whole bucket of goals I follow and I can’t compress or integrate it into one lousy vision. I also don’t like it to be so fixed, because you never know what life brings you. In essence: no matter what the end result turned out to be it never really inspired me to follow it for a long time.
So for the sake of the whole NoFap thing I thought it makes sense to try it out again, because once porn is gone - what else do we have left in our life? A vision can guide you in the time after 90 days when you grinded through, but then realize life still goes on as usual. You’ve gotten used to your new super powers and unfortunately you don’t transcend into a state of eternal happiness at day 90.
So I tried to write this personal mission statment and guess what happened? … yep, again I wasn’t content with it.
I then tried a different approach and it had very interesting results! Basically I just wrote down all the goals that I had for myself, e.g. my sports goals, travel goals, uni goals - you get the point, from every part of my life, where I set out to accomplish something.
After that I tried to reverse-engineer my motivation out of these goals - with honesty! I’m talking about real self honesty here. Imagine you’re drunk in a bar a very good friend sitting next to you. It’s 4 a.m, you just told him about your goals and he just asks you ‘why?’. What you would answer in that situation? That’s the honesty we need here!
No you don’t have to go on a pub crawl to find out your motivations, just an example so you know what I’m talking about.
What were the results for me? I had this vast vast variety of goals, but interestingly enough they all boiled down to four core motivations of mine:
- I wanted to feel good or at least avoid feeling bad.
- I wanted the approval of others.
- I wanted to do something meaningful in my life, something that would be remembered after I died. (This may also overlap a lot with approval)
- I wanted to create something in my life.
I was happy with my results, it felt like I touched some pretty basic needs of mine. Unfortunately those results didn’t make for a good mission statement either. Again it just didn’t inspire me at all!
Then it hit me. The purpose shouldn’t be about that I need to have these needs fulfilled, but how(!) I will choose to fulfill them. And the answer to that is: I will fulfill them by changing my beliefs and trying to orient my life towards values and not concrete goals.
Now, I’ve come a long way from here, but there were still some problems to be handled for me.
The problem with changing beliefs and orienting towards values is that in order for them to have a real effect on your life they need to adress a specific topic and undermine a certain stance. We can all agree on what’s ‘good’, but in our daily reality these values we theoretically all agree on are lived very differently by us all.
So I thought to myself ‘I may start changing my beliefs and values about the topic that started it all in the first place’: which would be Porn and Sexuality.
When I first learned about the addictive potential of porn in 2015 there were a lot of things at first that I didn’t want to be true. I grasped that many problems I had were related to porn. Calling my addiction by the word addiction though was something I definitley didn’t want to be true for example. I also didn’t want to realize how porn changed my believes and the believes of our whole western culture about sexuality and women.
You’re probably thinking now ‘No shit Sherlock, have you read any forum post lately?’. But I think it’s a big difference between reading some classic phrases that get thrown around a lot (‘porn objectifies women - what does that even mean?’) and deeply realizing for yourself that they are actually true (‘I do objectify women for my sexual pleasure whenever I stare at their cleavage and butts in the subway’). If I should relapse these insights about my ‘porn-induced’ beliefs is something that I will have gotten out of this streak and that will stay with me.
Back to the point - what are my false beliefs about porn and sexuality? I made an effort to write them all down. This worked best for me when I had urges, because that’s when my mind screams these beliefs into my face.
Here are a few examples:
- It’s desirable/manly to have sex with as many attractive women as possible
- Whenever there would be an attractive woman offering the possibilty to cheat I would give in
- If I wouldn’t give in it would be out of cowardice and not out of strength
- I’m a bad person, because of this. A horny, thirsty man unworthy of true attraction, love etc.
- I’m not able to love.
The first point may make you go - yeah, why not? The second and third point probably - you sick fuck you have a girlfriend! The fourth and fifth point - don’t be so hard on yourself or don’t be such a suck-up.
Your reaction doesn’t matter. I do know all these believes are wrong. They are in my head nevertheless, that is the true problem. All these beliefe and values play into my head when I’m sexually aroused or feeling an urge.
I firmly believe that there isn’t a single one of these thoughts that wasn’t shaped by my porn use. All these believes are basically messages or results out of messages that porn has sent to my brain in the last decade that I’ve been using it.
The first one is not only a message of porn, but also a belief that is spreaded a lot through our media and culture.
‘But that’s what men were biologically designed to do!’ you may say. It’s true, we were designed to spread our genes but we were also designed to desire connection and intimacy! It’s as equally important for biological survival but noone mentions this.
‘But people have always cheated or desired other women, its natural’ - people have also always been killing each other so that’s probably natural and a part of being human too, yet noone really tries to justify a murder that way.
Second point came directly from porn. Frankly, the thought of cheating turns me on, probably because it reminds me so much of porn. If you look at the ‘topics’ of a typical porn vid in over 50% it contains the aspect of cheating I’d say.
The last points are basically the results of my struggle and failure to incorporate these ‘porn beliefs’ into my life. Life’s not porn, of course. I don’t live up to this expectation and that leaves me with a bad self image. Being in a relationship and using porn will create even more conflicts of beliefs and it hurts my self image even more.
So what did I do to change these believes? I did the same that porn did. I invented a new set of values and beliefs for myself - that I think are right - and try to recite and meditate on them everyday to ingrain them into my brain. It’s really important.
I think the reason why the religious part of this community seems to be more successful is, because they basically adapt a new set of values through their religion and it gets reinforced on a regular basis through mass, prayer etc. Atheits or ‘less religious people’ can profit from that too.
Here are again examples of my ‘new believes’:
- It is desirable/manly to be in a relationship with a women you love.
- Whenever there would be an attractive woman offering the possibilty to cheat I would possess the strength and assuredness in myself and my relationship to decline without second thought.
- I’m a good person with dignity, decency and ideals.
- I love my girlfriend. I love my parents. I love my family and friends.
I recite them everyday and I also think about them a lot. If a value doesn’t feel right or doesn’t explain my stance well enough I think of a better way to express it. If I’m still not feeling satisfied I find out what else bugs me. This is really a journey of self-reflection.
As a last example: Practising my new values last week I immediatley noticed how my behaviour in spontanous social interaction changed (e.g. looking at women). I always asked myself, how would the new Boris react to this and then tried to act accordingly. It needs a lot of concentration and mental power but it feels just right! It’s like when you’re correcting your posture by practice and looking in the mirror.
Anyways despite this I really felt unhappy, when I didn’t get positive feedback (approval!) from others. So currently I’m working on finding out values that I can see as my internal approval system. That way I won’t rely on external approval that much anymore.
There is still a lot to work on, but I feel I’m heading in the right direction. I hope this entry gave you some ideas to implement into your life